Prog Drumming Highlights 2014: Edd Unwin

Prog Drumming Highlights 2014: Edd Unwin

Edd Unwin
Still Life Moving Fast
Empress AD

Empress AD is a new group inspired by such bands as Pink Floyd, Rush, King Crimson, and early Yes, as well as Opeth and Mastodon. Brothers Oliver (guitars and vocals) and Alex Loring (bass), Edd Unwin (drums), and Tom Meadon (guitars) mix atmospheric soundscapes, crushing guitars, sweet, innocent vocals, and screamo. This is the kind of music that grows on you the more you listen to it, but unfortunately may not find its way onto pop radio playlists.

Unwin plays a march and provides accents to go along with a bell sound in the 3/4 bridge/outro of "Invisible Conductors." "Delve Into The Retrospect" has a Pink Floyd vibe in the verse, while the chorus brings Soundgarden to mind. A Smashing Pumpkins ("Cherub Rock") type intro leads into the 5/4 verse and 6/4 chorus of "Deeper In Disguise." Unwin’s tribal groove in 6 from "On My Return" is reminiscent of The Cure or Muse, while the instrumental chorus (with chanting) has a Middle-Eastern flavor. Empress AD uses space to its advantage in an incredibly sparse breakdown. "Blurred Perception" uses time signatures of 11, 4, and 6, while Unwin creates waves of thirty-second notes on the hi-hat in a spacey bridge that sounds like XTC. "Did We See" is a hidden gem in 7 found near the end of the album, growing in intensity from start to finish.

Spotlight On "Haunted By Time"

Unwin does his best Gadd impression as he plays a march-based calypso over spine-chilling guitar. This is a departure from his more aggressive style on the rest of the album, as Unwin uses a wide dynamic palette and unique beat construction to get his point across. If you listen with headphones, the accented snare on beat 1 will make you jump. Ghosted notes make the accents and power flams come alive even more. Unwin's approach is similar to a jazz drummer's: He establishes a theme in the first measure, and improvises off that by bringing in the bass drum, moving rhythmic elements around, and adding space — while the hi-hat keeps the pulse.

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